Rothenburg, 1561–1652
Author: Alison Rowlands

Given the widespread belief in witchcraft and the existence of laws against such practices, why did witch-trials fail to gain momentum and escalate into ‘witch-crazes’ in certain parts of early modern Europe? This book answers this question by examining the rich legal records of the German city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a city that experienced a very restrained pattern of witch-trials and just one execution for witchcraft between 1561 and 1652. The book explores the factors that explain the absence of a ‘witch-craze’ in Rothenburg, placing particular emphasis on the interaction of elite and popular priorities in the pursuit (and non-pursuit) of alleged witches at law. By making the witchcraft narratives told by the peasants and townspeople of Rothenburg central to its analysis, the book also explores the social and psychological conflicts that lay behind the making of accusations and confessions of witchcraft. Furthermore, it challenges the existing explanations for the gender-bias of witch-trials, and also offers insights into other areas of early modern life, such as experiences of and beliefs about communal conflict, magic, motherhood, childhood and illness. Written in a narrative style, the study invites a wide readership to share in the drama of early modern witch trials.

Open Access (free)
Francis Bacon’s History of the Reign of King Henry VII
Ben Dew

shaped by his reading of a variety of other sources, principally legal records, classical history (particularly Tacitus) and the writings of Machiavelli and his various critics. This chapter investigates how Bacon fused methods and ideas derived from these works and explores the consequences of this move. Central among them, I argue, was the development of a new approach to the representation of finance and commerce. The chapter is divided into three sections. Section one discusses the humanist approach to history employed in pre-Baconian histories of Henry VII, most

in Commerce, finance and statecraft
Richard Suggett

audience.2 Moreover, abundant legal records, a bureaucratic consequence of the Acts of Union with England, have survived, providing uniquely in the British context a view of minstrels from the administrative as well as the literary perspective. VAGABONDS AND MINSTRELS Information about minstrels in the sixteenth century often derives from hostile sources, generally by the exponents of ‘high’ or courtly traditions seeking to distance themselves from a ‘low’ tradition of minstrelsy, and from legal and administrative records, especially statutes and proclamations that

in The spoken word
Open Access (free)
Alison Rowlands

, however, because so few historians have devoted attention to these questions since 1970. This is probably partly because it has been deemed less exciting and thus less marketable than accounts of large witch-hunts by publishers, partly because more radically feminist scholars have little interest in any work which apparently seeks to downplay the impact of witch-hunts on early modern women, and partly because cases of witchcraft that did not end in execution are harder to 2 WITCHCRAFT NARRATIVES IN GERMANY identify and tease out from early modern legal records. The

in Witchcraft narratives in Germany
Open Access (free)
Nuns’ narratives in early modern Venice
Mary Laven

among early modern legal records ought not, therefore, to be analysed as if they were tales told about the self which provided access to a person’s repressed memories or their most intimate experiences’.23 From Florence to the Northern Circuit, there is a new unease about the ways in which we read and understand court testimonies. The new worries are preoccupied not so much with the issues of reliability and typicality (factual distortions and the focus on deviance); they turn instead on our responses to narrative and self-expression, the two concerns of this chapter

in Judicial tribunals in England and Europe, 1200–1700
Open Access (free)
Paul de Rapin de Thoyras’s Histoire
Ben Dew

information worked to undermine the Whiggish assumptions on which Rapin had based his account. To return to Henry VII, the English notes contain legal records and data from Bacon concerning the King’s economic reforms, and Tindal comments at one point, with reference to Hall’s Chronicles, that Henry ‘lent merchants a great deal of money, without gain or profit, in order to encourage trade’.92 Such ideas are in direct opposition to Rapin’s primary economic argument and challenge his assumption that an avaricious and absolutist monarch such as Henry would necessarily be a

in Commerce, finance and statecraft
William Guthrie’s General History
Ben Dew

of the nation into a method of becoming proprietors in the soil’.32 To provide an account of the specific measures that Henry had employed, Guthrie turned to Rymer’s Foedera, contemporary legal records and, most importantly, Bacon. Thus, he paraphrased Bacon’s commentaries on the laws to counter depopulation and eliminate fines on the alienation and mortgaging of land, and repeated the former Lord Chancellor’s account of Empson and Dudley.33 All of these measures were presented as part of the King’s grand plan to transfer property to the commons. At the same time

in Commerce, finance and statecraft
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

transaction recorded in the charter in the event of a legal dispute at a future date.10 Precisely because charters were legal records the views of Timothy Reuter provide a useful context here. Reuter points out that, although they may appear to be legal records, they are more often ‘fragmentary (and often contextless) narratives . . . frozen records in the course of a narrative’.11 They are disjointed as a series of narratives because they were made in different contexts and to meet different needs Further, cartulary copies were subject to tampering, sometimes malicious

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Open Access (free)
A male strategy
Soili-Maria Olli

at the time, and acted as an appeal court which could grant pardons for those facing the death penalty. In 1779 it became the Supreme Court of Sweden. The Devil’s pact was considered the gravest of crimes and was punishable by death.14 It was considered the very worst of blasphemies, breaking the alliance made with God at baptism. It was, as the legal records described it, a ‘Crime Laesae Majestatis Divinae’ (‘Crime Against the Heavenly Majesty’). The crime of blasphemy during the period needs to be seen within the context of two broad, interrelated developments

in Beyond the witch trials
Open Access (free)
Birgit Lang, Joy Damousi, and Alison Lewis

­Nineteenth-Century French Hermaphrodite (Brighton: Harvester Press, 1980), p. xi. ∙ 16 ∙ Introduction 13 Stephen Robertson, ‘What’s Law Got To Do With It? Legal Records and Sexual Histories’, Journal of the History of Sexuality, 14:1/2 (2005), pp. 161–2. 14 Ludwik Fleck, ‘Some Specific Features of the Medical Way of Thinking (1927)’, in Robert S. Cohen and Thomas Schnelle (eds), Cognition and Fact: Materials on Ludwik Fleck (Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 1986), pp. 39–46, p. 39. 15 Carol Berkenkotter, Patient Tales: Case Histories and the Uses of Narrative in

in A history of the case study